Cavendish victory Qatar

Following a successful season debut in the Tour of Qatar, Columbia-Highroad sprint ace Mark Cavendish says he will be aiming high in the Tour of California – which starts this weekend. Cavendish took two wins in three days in Qatar, and is now ready for action in the nine-day American race.

“California is a massively important race for our team, and we’ve got a really strong line-up for the general classification,” Cavendish commented. “I’ve looked at the route and it’s a very tough course, a lot tougher than last year. On paper, there’s only one stage that seems certain to end in a bunch sprint, so I will be targeting that one for sure. I only hope the weather will be better than it was last year!”

“I like racing in America, the crowds and atmosphere are great, I saw that last year both in California and in the Tour of Missouri. It’s definitely something special.”

Cavendish will spend the build-up to America’s biggest stage race in a team training camp in Solvang along with the seven other Columbia-Highroad riders due to participate in California. Amongst them is American veteran George Hincapie, winner of a stage in the 2008 Tour of California, three- times World time trial Champion Michael Rogers and Tour de France Yellow Jersey holder Kim Kirchen. Australian Mark Renshaw, who will be racing as a lead-out man for Cavendish during the season, also forms part of the line-up.

“Of those taking part, only me and [Canadian team-mate] Michael Barry have come from Qatar, which finished last Friday. This week before California we’ll be training and recovering from the long flight over. My condition’s good, I think everybody saw that in Qatar where I got two stage wins. I’m motivated too – whenever I’m racing, that’s never a problem!”

Team Columbia-Highroad for the Amgen Tour of California [Feb 14th-22nd]: Adam Hansen (Aus), Michael Barry (Can); Mark Cavendish (GB); George Hincapie (USA); Kim Kirchen (Lux); Mark Renshaw (Aus); Michael Rogers (Aus)and Thomas Lövkvist.


Tess Weaver


February 10, 2009